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How I Got Around Time Warner Cable’s Modem Rental Fee

Motorola SB6141 ModemI am not a big fan of getting charged for something that I don’t think is justified.  One case in point is the modem rental fee that Time Warner Cable charges its customers.  I have only been a TWC internet customer since I cut my cable.  About a year ago, Time Warner Cable (TWC) decided it wanted to charge it customers $3.95 a month to rent their cable modem.  Most people that use have internet service probably “rent” these cable modems from their providers.  I had been a TWC customer for near 8 years and never once paid this fee or at least they didn’t break it out on the line items.

I was upset when I learned that I needed to pay a nearly $4 monthly charge to rent a modem that was technically not up to par with the internet speeds I was receiving.  They wanted me to pay to rent an old and used modem from them.  I wasn’t happy, so I called them up.  After speaking kindly to someone about the issue, I was able to get my monthly bill reduced by $3.95 to offset the cost.

Well, Not Anymore!

At the end of July, I received a little postcard from my favorite, cash hungry, internet provider.  TWC sent a little inconspicuous card that said they would be upping the fee to $5.99 a month.  Really TWC!  Now you want me to pay more for an outdated modem?  That is a ridiculous request……

I called them up and talked with another person there.  It appears that I wasn’t going to get out of this one.  I either needed to pony up the extra cash or buy my own modem.  Hmm…..I am technical enough to handle my own modem, so why not look into it?

Find the Right Modem

If you want to buy your own modem in order to not pay Time Warner Cable’s ridiculous rental fee, then you have some choices.  TWC put together a nice little page of the tested and approved modems that you can use.  You need to purchase one of these modems in order for your service to work.  You should pick a modem based on your current speeds that you are paying for.  I went with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem because it is well worth the money.

Sticking It to the Man

I jumped on Amazon to find which cable modem that is approved by Time Warner had the best reviews.  After some searches, I found that i wanted to get the Motorola SB6141.  I would highly recommend this modem for you setup.  It was easy to purchase (Amazon Prime, baby!) and super easy to setup.  I was able to get the SB6141 for less than $90 and I think it will be well worth it.

If you don’t purchase your own modem, here it the breakdown of your costs.

The current price on Amazon is $86.99 with free shipping.  If you live in a state where Amazon charges sales tax, then you have to add that.  One year of the TWC rental fee would be $71.88.  In order to break even on the cost of the modem, you would need to keep it for about 1 year and 3 months.  That cable modem should last longer than that.

If you are tired of paying extra fees for old technology, then take matters into your own hands.  Remember that you do have to return the rented modem back to Time Warner, but that is a small price to pay.  I am happy that I don’t have to pay the extra rental fee and I will gladly recommend it to anyone else.  Don’t let TWC tell you that you will have issues because 99.99% of the time, it would be their service issue, not the modems.

It’s time to tell Time Warner “No” to their extra fees!


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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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Leave a Comment:

34 comments
Matt Becker says August 9

We’ve got our own modem as well. It’s lasted us over 5 years now and was definitely worth the cost. With stuff like that, it’s always worth at least looking into the possibility of getting it yourself for less. You have to assume they’re trying to make a nice profit off it.

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    Grayson says August 11

    Glad to hear that your modem has lasted that long. That is good and I hope mine does as well.

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DC @ Young Adult Money says August 9

Ugh rented modems are the worst! I bought my own as well and avoided the rental fee from the get-go.

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    Grayson says August 11

    Nice. I have been with TWC for some time and back then, they didn’t charge a rental fee. They didn’t really even talk too much about the ability to buy your own modem. Things have changed since then.

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Edward Antrobus says August 9

I just bought a cable modem so I can switch from DSL to cable. Comcast charges $7!
I did buy a used one off Amazon (after checking for compatability from Comcast’s website) and it only cost be $35. That’s a ROI breakeven of only 5 months!

Of course, the money I’m saving from switching from CenturyLink DSL, who refuses to offer a new promotional price, to Comcast Xfinity at a promotional price, I’m actually paying for the modem in only a month and a half!

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    Grayson says August 11

    Glad to hear it Edward. Comcast does charge the highest price so far and many of their customers are getting their own modems. Glad to hear that you are saving some money.

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Holly@ClubThrifty says August 9

I’m convinced that all internet providers suck. Modem renting fees are stupid anyway.. They will come up with anything to make more money!

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    Grayson says August 11

    They will come up with any new fee that they can. I understand that they are a business, but damn.

    Reply
Sean @ One Smart Dollar says August 9

I think I need to look into this, because I think this fee is such a waste.

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    Grayson says August 11

    It was super easy to switch. Just buy the modem, hook it up, call them, and you are ready to go. Just make sure to turn back in the old modem, or they will continue to charge you.

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Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says August 9

I have Optimum Cable internet (subsidiary of Cablevision) and they are one of the last companies yet to charge for cable modem rental. I’m just awaiting for that to happen so I hope like TWC, they can recommend some options to buy.

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    Grayson says August 11

    I am sure it will happen sooner or later. Have you called them to see if they will reduce your rate if you buy your own modem?

    Reply
Joe@IGotOuttaDebt.com says August 9

Well done! We had Cox Cable for 7 years and always had our own purchased modem. We recently changed to Verizon (earning $1000) http://igotouttadebt.com/2013/02/03extra-money-cable . However, Verizon requires you to have their own modem. No way around it. I’m sure that when our 2 year contract expires, and their promotional rate expires, we’ll shop around and see what Cox can offer. You can bet, we’ll look at getting our own modem.

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    Grayson says August 11

    I was looking at Verizon FIOS, but I noticed that you have to have their modem. I have never really needed to have my own modem, but now it seems to be the case. Good luck on getting a better deal later down the road.

    Reply
Kurt @ Money Counselor says August 9

Good for you Grayson! Feels great to take control of a situation like you have. I recently bought off Craigslist for $60 a digital cable box, which our provider rents for $3.95 per month. The only question is will enough time pass before I ditch cable totally to have made the purchase worthwhile! But I figure I can re-sell the cable box, so it’s all good.

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    Grayson says August 11

    It does feel good Kurt. I love taking control and saving money at the same time. Nice work on the deal and if you ditch cable and sell the digital box, then you are going to be in really good shape.

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Sam Gill @ Digital Spikes says August 9

Grayson, Definitely it is good way to save money by having your own modem instead of paying the rental fees, which are high for some providers. We did the same last year. well done !

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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says August 9

I’m going to look into this. I assume I’m paying a rental fee and I never though much about it. But you’re right, you have the initial upfront cost but over time, you end up saving money (potentially even a lot!) buying your own modem. Convenience is nice but it can’t be that hard to set-up your own modem. Have a great weekend, Grayson!

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    Grayson says August 11

    I would definitely look into it. They might not break it out by line item, but it could still be there. Can’t hurt to check.

    Reply
Rob says August 9

One thing I would suggest before buying a modem to replace your rented one, call the cable company and ask someone in a higher level support position if they have a recommendation. Generally they will tell you if certain modems work better than others. I realize it shouldn’t matter, and with larger companies like TWC, it may not. However, with smaller providers it may. I had an experience like this a few years ago, where my Motorola Surboard would have intermittent connectivity issues. After weeks of talking to customer support, I finally got an upper level tech to tell me that they had their signal provisioned a certain way, and my modem was basically non compliant. I then used their provided modem without a problem until they were bought out by another company. Once the new company started to charge me, I called up, and got a tier 2 tech. He told me point blank what he would buy instead of paying the rental fee.

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    Grayson says August 11

    Great tip Rob. I did a lot of research on the modem that I got and don’t think I will have any issue. There are thousands of reviews from TWC customers that use the same modem that I got. Still, great tip!

    Reply
canadianbudgetbinder says August 10

Modem fees are silly that’s like buying the car and you don’t get the keys to start it. I’ve never paid and if I did I managed to get a reduction like you did. These companies will soak us dry any chance they get as if their internet fees aren’t already high enough. If I had to I’d look into buying though.

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    Grayson says August 11

    You are right Mr. CBB! They will drain us at every turn. We have to keep vigilant for ways to reduce our bills.

    Reply
Laurie says August 10

Good for you, Grayson. $5.99 (and even $3.95) a month is ridiculous! Seems to me I’m going to have to scrutinize my phone/internet bill more seriously from now on.

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    Grayson says August 11

    It is ridiculous. I don’t like paying fees like that, hence why most of my banking is done online. I hope you might be able to save on some of those fees.

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Betsy / CollegeMom says August 10

I loathe Time Warner Cable. We have horrible cable service and every time I call in they want to blame it on my router because it isn’t their equipment. We’re ditching cable and phone with them in the next couple of weeks. Just bought an HD antenna. We will save about $165 each month. That’s serious money!

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    Grayson says August 11

    Nice work on ditching cable and phone with them. I only use them for my internet service because there are not too many options around my part of the city. You are saving some serious cash. Awesome!

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Thomas | Your Daily Finance says August 11

Those cable companies will try to stick it to you any way possible. I have had my own modem for years. Funny thing is when I moved the cable guy was like something is wrong with you modem. Long story short he was trying to get me to upgrade to a newer more expensive one. Not happening. Come to find out it wasn’t working because “somehow” it was reset. Not going to point fingers but I didnt reset it. I am seriously looking at ditching a lot of the crap I have.

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    Grayson says August 11

    Yeah, the bad thing is that once you put your modem onto their service, they can control it. They can “slow” down your service, then blame it on your modem. They still have the power over you.

    Reply
Derek | MoneyAhoy.com - Money Saving, Making Money, and Investment Ideas says August 12

Great story on finding the cheapest long term solution!

If you’ve been a customer that long, I’m sure you’d be able to negotiate a cheaper rate overall – especially if there is competition in your area.

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    Grayson says August 13

    Actually, TWC doesn’t really reward long-time customers with promotions. I have had multiple conversations with them and have been told that if I leave the service and come back, I would be able to get a better rate. They know they own the market here and can charge what they want. You can threaten to leave and they will call your bluff.

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vij says April 18

can i connect any wifi router (ex linksys ) to sb6141

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    Grayson Bell says April 19

    you should not have any problems with a linksys router. I have one and it connects just fine.

    Reply
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